Friday, October 14, 2005

Just Doing What Teddy Says

The latest "screw 'em" from the grave is detailed here, but it's worth reproducing -- in as many places and as often as possible -- this quote from President Teddy Roosevelt. It to a great degree explains why I write many of the things I write, and why I get so far past reasonable with the path, the weak path of selfish fear, so many people have taken these days.

Teddy explained in 1918 that the president is merely the most important among a large number of public servants, and:

He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able and disinterested service to the nation as a whole.

"Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."


Fat Chance said...

Tell the truth, but say it, don't spray it. In other words, speak the truth, but don't bludgeon people with it. Speak it appropriately and with decorum and with respect, if respect is due. The way a cop addresses you when he's seen you run a red light: "Your license and registration... sir."

Naked Ape said...

Yea, now if we can just get Dubya to pull over...

Rogers said...

Mmmm, but sometimes a bit of shouting is in order. People use decorum and respect, as tools to shove the truth away, or to stifle reasonable objection. I mean, who hasn't seen the bad side of giving the government the "benefit of the doubt" because they're the government recently? Perhaps I'm biased from my background, but being able to play outside decorum and respect is why comics are the truthtellers in society -- why Jon Stewart, for example, somehow became the most respected reporter in America.

Sometimes you need to present the truth on a blackboard with little arrows and diagrams. Sometimes, folks, you gotta throw it through the window stapled to the side of a big old dick joke.

Anonymous said...

" . . . if respect is due."

Oh, well there's the rub.

We've politely stood at the sidelines fretting while the administration administered a high-protein tonsil wash to the government with its unique blend of crony politics, corruption, and ideological wanking.

Pose a serious threat to their game, and Rove's machine politely smears your reputation.

After reading stories like this:

Oursourcing report rewritten by political appointees

. . . and this:


I'm thinking:

No respect.

No mercy.


Jer said...

And this is part of the reason why some Republicans to this day despise the memory of Theodore Roosevelt. To the point where many of them want to replace his bust on Mt. Rushmore with Reagan's head. He was very concerned with keeping those in power in check - the Elliot Spitzer of his day, in fact.

Still probably one of my favorite 20th century Presidents - and easily my favorites 20th century Republican president.

Joshua said...

Rogers, you rock - you are a golden god!

Kid Sis said...

Oh no! Don't go jumping off any roofs now...we need our pundits.

DMc said...

Rogers, you magnificent bastard, I've been waiting for you to break out TR. For ever.

I had an absolutely sublime experience years ago. In a previous life as a TV producer, I did a story on the LIbrary of Congress putting their collection online, and I'd seen this part beforehand. And my tribute for doing my little piece of uncritical infotainment is I asked to see this diary they had. TR's diary.

see it here:

This is a man who, before he entered our history, lost his mother and his wife on the same day. He thought it was all over.

And he survived, and he led...

The President, unlike many who seek to demonize him...I don't think is particularly a bad man. But he has not been tested. He could have been tested by military service, but he dodged that though connections. He could have been tested in business by suffering adversity, but sadly, his legacy and his friends always bailed him out.

This is a man who doesn't know poor people, who had to watch a DVD to understand that N.O. was in trouble. Who nominates his friends to the Supreme Court. I know that's the kind of crit people usually make -- but in this those silly letters -- actually true.

Not worthy of T.R. Not worthy of a grea republic. And with the scandals and stink of illegality, suddently the questions of left and right seem a little..what.... irrelevant?

Please, please, please, this time, can we all not be smug? Smug is when we lose. Smug is why they hate us.

These are the times that try men's souls, after all.


Stephen Benson said...

one of the tough concepts for people to connect with is that here, in this country, dissent is loyal, a duty. as a viet nam vet i applaud the people that were fucking things up in the street who raised enough hell here at home to get me out of that hell over there. supporting the troops or loving your country sometimes entails telling them when they're fucking up. when i hear the "stay the course" bullshit metaphor i want to say "skipper, ya might want to take a look at the barometer and turn this puppy into the wind." or my personal favorite nautical proverb "when the water passes your knees, follow the rats."

adi said...

if now, when its policies are quite obviously a trainwreck, we must shout out loud and proud to all those that decided to let this disaster of a government return to power, that we told them so, over and over again preferably in many different ways. if we cannot even do that in the face of abject truth, i don't know when it can be done.

(but don't be too mean, we are the nice guys right?)

Rogers said...

actually, no, I'm not a nice guy. But I did have to admit to my Dad tonight that, no matter how you feel about the man ... I don't envy the president the next three years.

Jer said...

"I don't envy the president the next three years."

Man, I'm just hoping our nation survives the next three years intact. God-willing, the cadre in charge doesn't decide to go all "scorched earth" on the government before they go down in flames...

RogerRmjet said...

...blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.

The operative point here is that you have to do both. Bush could go into Afghanistan with Jenna and Barb, Jr., and bring out Osama by his ears, and there are still many who would criticize him for doing so. If you never acknowledge when he does something right, then you lessen your effectiveness in pointing out when he does wrong.

The same is true in regards to Clinton. Clinton did many of the things for which Bush is being lambasted (e.g., cronyism, Somalia, Bosnia, etc.), yet he was never criticized. If you ignore the wrongs of one person, then it lessens your effectiveness in pointing out those same mistakes in another.

Rogers said...

"yet he was never criticized"

Okay. Seriously. Are. You. HIGH? Were you out of the country for the second term of Clinton's presidency?

I'm the LAST guy to defend Clinton. And the first instinct here is to do an administration comparison, but I don't want to fall into the trap of framing this as Bush v. Clinton which it's not. If I'd been blogging when Clinton was President, I would have had big problems with his policies, some of which I still disagree with. And christ, how many Democrats right now are trading on their rejection of the Clinton legacy, or cozying up to the current President. Joe Lieberman ring any bells? Hell, how many guys do you think are going to run in 2008 on not much more than "I'm not Hillary"?

But it's precisely this false equivalency bullshit I can't stand.

Comparing Bosnia in any way shape, or form to Iraq is just, frankly, bone stupid and I'm not even going to bother to apologize for using that word. You want to compare intervening in an ongoing destabilizing civil
war with full international approval and barely any troops and a highly complex, coordinated effort with a fully thought-out post-war plan to the absolute train-wreck the Iraq war has not only become but was doomed to become through poor pre-war plannning, you go right ahead and look like an ass, I'm not going to stop you. And I will remind you that the Republican Congress and Senate pilloried Clinton for that Bosnian decision -- most of the quotes I use in regards to the importance of "benchmarks" and "mission creep" I use from Republicans came from Tom DeLay and his ilk relentlessly criticizing Clinton during that time. You don;t remember "wag the dog?"

And with all due respect, please feel free to find an single example of cronyism from that time as egregious as Harriet Meiers or especially Michael Brown -- or any of the dozens of people who are not only cronies, but cronies with absolutely no relevant experience put in charge of crucial national security/safety posts. People will DIE because of Bush's cronies. For God's Sake, Clinton made a Republican, Bill Cohen , his Secretary of Defense -- and he was a great SecDef.

In the name of sweet hopping Jesus, the Arkansas man was impeached over lying about a sexual affair -- while right now, high-ranking members of this administrationn were involved in blowing the cover of a NOC agent during, as we are repeatedly reminded, a time of war and what do I see? Endless parades of party hacks going "Well, this is just hardball politics" and "Maybe it was a crime, but come on, just a technicality ..." The point you're making is valid -- but to wave it in a hurt voice while the conservative movement is bending over backward to pretend the current train wrecks aren't happening ... please.

"Bush could go into Afghanistan with Jenna and Barb, Jr., and bring out Osama by his ears, and there are still many who would criticize him for doing so"

That's a bullshit straw man argument and you know it. ON THE RECORD, all Americans, Democrats and Republicans alike, voted overwhelming to support the President when he went in to Afghanistan because that's where Osama was Hell, you can't sit there and say we'd bitch about Bush getting Osama when the MAIN REASON most of us are pissed is because he didn't finish the job and get Osama. That makes NO. SENSE.
Most of us are pissed because the President in the postwar period has had passed, with massive public support, everything he's asked for in his War on Terror, including some very dubious civil rights ideas. Many Americans trusted him on the Iraq War because of 9/11 -- hell, this Administration took sweet advantage of the fact (and some *cough Cheney* actively lied to this effect) that most Americans conflated Iraq with 9/11 in a direct causal relationship. But you know what -- he's got nothing to show for it. THAT'S what he's taking flack for, not some spurious negativity because I don't like his cowboy boots.

So, is this how this goes? Are we not allowed to criticize a man who, in my opinion, is not a bad man, but is repeatedly demonstrating he's just not good at his job, because you don't think liberals were mean enough to Clinton? And you're saying this with a straight face at a time where this group of -- I won't call them Republicans, because, they're not, not really -- this group of manipulative power-players have created a massive public relations and media interface system that reinforces the idea criticism of the President is tantamount to treaon? Will there ever be some level of criticism of liberal politicians where you think that the scales will be balanced enough to justify criticizing the President?

You know what? HE'S. IN. CHARGE. When the liberals are in charge, run up record deficits in a time of war and refuse to raise taxes at least on the rich, put policies in place attacking the middle class, run an election based on bigotry and fear-mongering, send out troops to a poorly-planned war without proper armor, don't take good care of them when they return ... (oh, wait, they had that guy. That was LBJ, and he pretty much gutted the liberal movement for twenty years... although at least he'll have signing the civil rights act on his resume when history comes a'calling)... where was I? Oh yes, when the liberals are in charge again, and they fuck up THIS. BADLY, I will swear to you right now you can be damn sure I will go to the wall against them. Because the things I believe in -- smart national security, personal responsibility and privacy, transparent voting, fiscal conservatism, investing in our education infrastructure and more money to soldiers, firemen and cops -- are independent of party affiliation.

But you know what? One set of incompetents at a goddam time.

pamb said...

Whoa, John - are you sure your degree is in physics and not American History or political science? Excellent rampage, by the way.

Sizemore said...

Whoa, John

You should see him in the flesh with a couple of beers inside him... people stood on the opposite side of the bar had their shadows burned into the wall.

pamb said...

Actually, Mike, I've seen him at a 9:00 a.m. physics lecture after very little sleep. I can only imagine how the past years have increased his bitterness.

Heronymus said...

Because the things I believe in -- smart national security, personal responsibility and privacy, transparent voting, fiscal conservatism, investing in our education infrastructure and more money to soldiers, firemen and cops -- are independent of party affiliation.

Actually, that makes you my kind of Republican. Now if we could just take back the damned party from the wackos...

Monkey Migraine said...

Dear Sir,

I don't believe Teddy Roosevelt said that. Oh, there's proof? Then Teddy Roosevelt was a traitor. And he smelled bad.

Ann Coulter

Gaijin Biker said...

Yeah, well, ol' Teddy said a lot of things. I prefer this one:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

— Citizenship in a Republic
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris
April 23, 1910

adi said...

If you never acknowledge when he does something right, then you lessen your effectiveness in pointing out when he does wrong.

excuse me sir, but could you point out something that they have implemented that has actually worked out for anyone's gain apart from halliburton?

and if you say the iraq war, i have a few hundred thousand baghdadians who want to talk to you a little bit about their power and water supplies going away

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